Gingerbread House

by | Dec 24, 2008 | crafts, Food, Parenting | 5 comments

Here’s how the gingerbread house making went:

First, we went to the Old Port Candy Co. to get candy. I figured this was better than getting giant bags of 12 different candies at the grocery store and then having leftovers. So we were able to get individual gummy lobsters and little licorice allsorts. We still had tons of leftovers (donated to Henry’s class for their gingerbread houses), and I did have to make a run to the grocery store for gumdrops, which I somehow could not find at the Old Port Candy Co. I’m a little on the fence considering the sum of money we dropped on candy here, but I felt good about supporting a local business, and it definitely seemed much more festive to go pick our individual candy bits from old-fashioned bins.

Let’s pause for a moment to celebrate the fact that I brought three kids into a candy store, and they did not at all go nuts but instead thoughtfully chose candy for the house and weren’t even so much considering eating it (in fact, when I mentioned something to Henry about tasting some candy, he got very concerned about running out of candy for the gingerbread house) (ok, and it’s not like Zuzu is going to get that excited about candy, stuck in a sling at 6 months old). I have a very short list of Quantifiable Parental Accomplishments, but the candy-getting is on the list (also newly on the list: that Henry used the phrase “truth be told” the other day in casual conversation).

Of course, half the fun of getting 100 different kinds of candy is organizing them (or are my kids mildly OCD and not all kids are obsessed with lining things up in categories?). And yes, it’s true, to help Eli power through the candy organizing task, I gave him…a cookie. I don’t know, sometimes I’m a little weak in the snack department, ok? It is a homemade best chocolate chip cookie ever cookie at least. Henry, wisely, chose a pear.

I gave Henry the task of choosing a gingerbread house design. He picked out the Sunday House design from (the appropriately titled) Tiny, Tiny Houses by Lester Walker (it’s not a book of gingerbread house designs, but a book of different very small house designs). The Sunday House is a type of house that the German farmer immigrants in Fredericksburg, Texas would stay in when they came to town on the weekend to do shopping and go to church. So, theoretically, they may have stayed in one at Christmas. I didn’t care about the Christmas appropriateness of it so much as the fact that he chose a design that was a perfect square and very easy to translate to gingerbread. We flattened out some cracker boxes and drew the plans on there, and then used those as a template to cut out our gingerbread pieces.

Here it is, unadorned.

The back.

All decked out. Notice the dogs on the roof, and also nestled amongst the gumdrops in front. They’re little licorice scotty dogs.

Random back-of-house gummy lobster decoration.

And then of course what happens after decorating the gingerbread house is that the kids are completely sugared up and Eli runs around like a loose spinning top and runs headlong into the chair and gives himself a black eye. Ah, Christmas!

I will say that, after Year Two of making a gingerbread house, I feel kind of Grinchy about it. It takes, literally, like two weeks to do it, with candy and material gathering, dough making, dough rolling, dough cutting, dough baking, assembly, and decoration. Last year we kind of forgot to eat it, and so the boys finally attacked a very stale gingerbread house around Martin Luther King Jr. Day, after which I dumped the almost-whole gingerbread house very unceremoniously into the garbage can (where it looked very sad). I kind of feel like the whole thing might be more trouble than it’s worth…except for that the kids do really love it, and somehow miraculously don’t pick up on the fact that Dave and I are audibly sighing and rolling our eyes during the whole fortnight of gingerbread assembly.

And, now that it’s done, it is pretty cute and I have to say it smells amazing every time I walk by (which is 75 times a day; it’s fairly prominently located).


  1. Elizabeth

    It looks fantastic!

    I was thinking of showing this to Isaac, and then thought about the money I’ve already spent on cookies and the fact that it is now Christmas Eve and that it snowed AGAIN and it is difficult to get anywhere in this city at the moment. I am still learning how his mind works…and at three and a half, his mind is a minefield of emotions. Didn’t you write something about age three and a half on this blog somewhere? Aaargh!

    Ah well…we DID make gingerbread people. And he helped me decorate them.

    Hope you all have a relaxing, slow Christmas.

  2. Julie

    Three and a half, with Henry at least, was a complete nightmare. He was so awful I can’t even think about it. It’s this odd age of straddling independent thoughts and complete lack of control, and there seemed to be a lot of testing, like dumping five pounds of sugar, five pounds of flour, and a container of cornmeal on the living room carpet, just to see what happens. I will say that 4 is a complete DREAM and just look ahead to that because there is a magical little switch that goes off right around the 4th birthday and suddenly he will be a complete ANGEL. I mean it. It’s great.

  3. emily

    Huh. didn’t we visit around Henry 3 and a half? He was ttoally fine – aside from the occasional high-pitched increasing in highness of pitch protest, which was more hilarious than awful, since he was so clearly not albe to contain it and the end was audible only to dogs. did it really get worse and last 6 months? at 2 and 3/4, we’re in a new phase of full-body wrestling when we have to get in car-seat, and major delay, delay, delay in putting clothes on ending often in kind of slam-dance style flop about when it comes time to leave– it gets worse than this ? we’re full on in the throes of should we have another baby (at all, or soon, or what), and bad 3 and half doesn’t sound fun, if we were to foist nother baby on him. on the other hand, maybe that would make us feel more sorry for him. hmm.

  4. Pete

    Nice work! Our actual house is decorated with giant gummy lobsters, so I don’t think that’s weird at all.

    Some people claim kids are more “unbalanced” and have more behavioral problems around the half-birthday point. I don’t know if that’s true, but anecdotally, it matches our experience.

  5. Julie

    Em, I think you visited Henry when he was closer to 4. Three-and-a-half was much worse for Henry than two-and-a-half, but I’m thinking it might be the other way around for Eli, because he’s still doing fun things now like biting Henry on the face just for the heck of it, and I can’t really imagine how we’ll survive something WORSE in a year. So I think it may vary by kid (duh), but yes, what Pete says, I too have read that half-birthdays are worse behaviorally, and it has definitely been true for us.


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